Our plan today was for B2 to catch up with a work colleague; Fraser to finish his Bunning runs and put stoppers on all of the chairs at Henty House and for Di to follow on a little later. All worked well for B2 and Fras but Di managed to get on the wrong tram and take ages to get back to her starting point.
B2 works for Hewlett-Packard and she invited us to go to their Welcome Centre to see what HP are now into. HP are big into providing high resolution computers to many industries and also the gaming world. They have diversified and changed their direction to keep up with modern demands over the years.
Fras and B2 returned to Elwood and then we headed down to Port Philip Island to go and see The Little Penguins which was a two hour drive south west of Melbourne.
On the way down we stopped for some fish and chips and came across this unique rubbish bin which was made out of bits of metal and old knives and spoons. It was pretty cool.
Little penguins (Known as Fairy Penguins to us oldies) are the smallest of all penguin species. They stand approximiately 33cm tall and weigh around one kilogram, with males weighing slightly more than females. Little penguins breed in colonies along the southern coastlines of Australia and New Zealand, with Phillip Island in Victoria home to an estimated 32,000 breeding adults.
Little penguins spend 80% of their lives at sea swimming and foraging for food, and return to their nesting burrows on Phillip Island to breed, raise chicks, moult and to take a break after days or weeks spent at sea.
It is quite the tourist industry but it is run by a not for profit organization and all monies collected does go back into the care of the Penguins. All photography is forbidden so all these photos you see on this posting are from the Port Philip Penguin website. You are told in a number of languages that the blue screens and flashes blind the penguins and they lose their direction to their burrows. Of course there are always those people who think the rules don’t apply to them and use their flashes and phones.
Human impacts such as introduced predators, over exploitation of marine ecosystems, oil spills, marine pollution and climate change can threaten little penguins and their ecosystems.
At sunset every night the Little Penguins emerge from the ocean and waddle in groups up to their burrows. At present it is nesting season so there were a lot of fluffy chicks waiting outside their burrows for either one of their parents to return with dinner. They parents do not return every night so sometimes the penguin just has to wait a few days. Parent penguins recognize their chicks but chicks do not recognize their parent. When the penguins start coming out of the ocean and walk up the beach to the burrows, the chicks come out and some of them are extremely aggressive to any adult penguin begging for food. We saw a number of interactions where the adult penguin was running away from these aggressive chicks that were not theirs and in one case we saw an adult run from the top of the beach all the way back to the ocean to get away from a chick.
Little penguins do not mate for life. If breeding success is low, penguins may look for a new mate. Researchers from Phillip Island Nature Parks have recorded an annual divorce rate for little penguins of between 18 and 50%. Little penguins lay two eggs, which are in similar size to chicken eggs. Both parents take it in turns to incubate them. The incubation period is approximately 35 days.
Both parents feed their chicks by regurgitating fish and squid caught at sea. Chicks leave their parents and head out to sea for the first time at around 7 – 11 weeks of age. Their parents do not teach them to swim or fish, they know how to do this instinctively.
It was a chilly evening, and as you can see we took a blanket and Toque plus wearing trousers and jumpers. The parade started at 9.00pm and we were there for two hours and then add the two hour drive back to Elwood, so we got in pretty late.